Larch Island Interpretive Trail is a relatively easy, 1.9km loop through peaceful Canmore woodland. The trail opens at several points to give stunning views of the Bow River and the surrounding mountains.
The Larch Island trail is quite literally a stone’s throw from my home. I love that I can always find a quiet spot to sit by the river with a morning coffee. The views across the river are beautiful, and very few visitors venture to this end of Canmore despite being very accessible.
Starting Point Of The Larch Island Interpretive Trail
The trail is at the north end of Canmore, on the eastern bank of the Bow River. The best starting point for the trail is a small wooden bridge along the Bow River Trail, close to the end of 16th Street.
How To Get There
There are many ways to access the trail by foot, but if you are exploring downtown, it is a 15-minute walk along the Bow River trail to the trailhead.
Access the Bow River trail from Riverside Park or the end of Riverview Place from downtown Canmore. Follow the trail north, past the engine bridge, until you reach the wooden bridge (on your left). This is the entry point to Larch Island.
To get to the Larch Island Interpretive Trail, head to the end of 17th Street, off 11 Avenue. After parking, walk to the end of 17th Street and turn left onto the hiking trail; continue for around 50m until you see a small bridge on your right. Cross the bridge to start your walk.
Larch Island Interpretive Trail Parking
The closest car park to the trailhead is the Larch Ice Rink parking lot off 17th Street. This is a relatively small parking area next to the outdoor rink; if you find it full, there is plenty of roadside parking in the area,
What To Expect On The Larch Loop Trail
The Larch Loop trail is a mix of crushed gravel and dirt paths. It has minimal elevation, but some sections are rocky with exposed roots, so you need to watch your step. It’s not suitable for pushchairs.
Along the way, you’ll find interpretive signs that offer insights into the area’s natural and cultural history, and you’ll find a variety of plants and trees, including (of course!) larch trees.
Wildlife On The Trail
The Larch Island Interpretive Trail offers a chance to see some local wildlife. This is both a positive and a negative aspect of the trial.
Elk are a common sight around Larch Island. However, the females can be aggressive and protective of their young in the spring, while the males are aggressive during the fall rutting season. These animals are unpredictable, and keeping a safe distance is best.
Bears also frequent this area, especially in the spring, although they are less commonly seen than elk. Larch Island is one of the few places in Canmore where I routinely carry bear spray.
However, Larch Island has many less intimidating inhabitants, such as birds, woodpeckers, squirrels, and chipmunks.
Larch Island Interpretive Trail Map
You will find maps similar to the above posted regularly along the Bow River trails. You can see the Larch Island Interpretive Trail on the bottom right-hand side of the map. Our recommended start point (between the ends of 16th and 17th Street) is shown with a red star.
The trail is open year-round, but my favourite time is the fall when the larch and aspen trees turn a vivid shade of yellow. Summer is also an excellent time to go, thanks to the wildflowers that bloom along the trail.
Generally, the Larch Loop trail is most accessible from April to October. The trail can be very snowy and icy in the winter, and I recommend attaching ice cleats to your shoes. However, on a positive note, the bears will be asleep!!
Extending Your Adventure
The Larch Island Interpretive Trail is around 1.9 km. You can extend your walk by parking in downtown Canmore and walking to the trailhead along the Bow River Trail (around 1km in each direction). It can be further extended by adding the Bow River Loop Trail to one end of your walk (an extra 2km).
The Larch Island Interpretive Trail is a relatively easy, picturesque walk that allows you to escape Canmore’s crowds. There are numerous options to extend your walk by combining it with other river trails. Just remember to pack the bear spray!!